18-wheeler goes over Augusta Canal Bridge, bridge to reopen Wednesday evening

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UPDATE – Crews continue to clean up the mess when an 18-wheeler crashed into the side of the I-20 Eastbound bridge that spanned the Augusta Canal Monday late afternoon.

After crashing into the side of the bridge, the momentum of the 18-wheeler caused the tractor trailer and its load to flip over a protective metal railing atop the bridge and plunge into the Augusta Canal. Minor injuries, including those of the tractor trailer operator, were injured.

As a result, a spokesperson for the Georgia Department of Transportation tells WJBF 205 feet of metal railing that served as a barrier atop the bridge will have to be replaced.

According to GA DOT, a maintenance contractor who handles the Department’s I-20 repairs is currently preparing to put in the more-than-200 feet of metal railing and be completed by tonight.

Once the repairs are completed, GA DOT tells WJBF, some time between late this afternoon and early this evening, both lanes of I-20 Eastbound will be reopened atop the bridge, which has significantly impacted traffic in the area.

For those concerned by traffic impacts tonight, GA DOT tells WJBF that, once all the replacement railing has been installed and repairs made, their department will immediately update commuters on the bridge’s status and the opening of lanes on the state’s “Georgia DOT – East” Facebook page.

There were no additional repairs needed to the structure of the bridge, according to GA DOT, as the integrity of the bridge was not impacted by the crash.

All remediation efforts due to Augusta’s water supply being impacted by the crash are being paid for by the freight company’s insurance provider, according to GA DOT.

The Georgia State Patrol is still preparing a crash report in the incident. At the writing of this article, it was not yet completed.

The cab of the 18-wheeler has been moved from the scene while the tractor trailer has been moved to a staging area on the bank of the canal as crews work to remove the tractor trailer’s cargo, which both Augusta Fire Department and Augusta Utilities confirm to be the mineral clay known as kaolin.


UPDATE | Pumping operations for Augusta Canal are back in order after submerged 18-wheeler caused a shutdown of water flow to the city’s primary source for drinking water.

Augusta Utilities informs WJBF that normal pumping operations have continued for the Augusta Canal after sample testing revealed no water quality issues following a vehicle that was submerged in the Augusta Canal earlier this week.

Following the crash of an 18-wheeler containing a tractor trailer load of kaolin into the canal Monday at approximately 5:30 p.m. from the I-20 Eastbound overpass, all water pumping operations pulling water from the canal for purification and use as the city’s drinking water supply were shutdown and all pumping operations switched to the Savannah River.

This morning, Augusta Utilities staff travelled the length of the Augusta Canal, locating trash and taking water quality samples at various points. Because these tests revealed no water quality issues, the decision was made to direct water back into the canal and begin refilling it.

As of shortly before noon, Augusta Utilities confirms that normal operations for pumping water from the canal to the system’s waterworks for use have been recontinued.

Movement of water throughout the canal was also monitored to make sure that there were no issues. At least one of the city’s old mill locations have opened their gates this morning, as well, allowing in the water from the Augusta Canal, which is used to generate electricity that is then sold back to Georgia Power – operations at both electric generation plants were suspended following the shutdown of the canal, according to Augusta Utilities.

The submerged 18-wheeler was removed from the Augusta Canal Tuesday evening.


UPDATE | The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office would like to make the public aware that one lane on I-20 EB is now open.

According to Augusta Fire and EMA, they are working to determine what the tractor trailer was carrying at the time of the accident.

A hazmat team and the Department of Environmental Protection has also been called as a precaution. Drivers are advised to seek an alternative route.

Augusta Utilities Assistant Director for Facilities Operations, Allen Saxon, was on-scene Tuesday morning as private crews tried to locate items that had gone downstream when the 18-wheeler dove over the side of the I-20 Eastbound bridge over the Augusta Canal, as well as trying to contain any contaminants from the tractor trailer that remains submerged.

“The canal is our primary source of drinking water.  We do have capability to draw from the river instead of the canal, which we are doing now.  It has happened many times over the years.”

Booms have been set up to keep any hazardous material from the tractor trailer from further contaminating the area. As a precaution, no water is being pulled from the canal. All mills have shut down their use of the water for now.

Damage will not be repaired to the bridge until the truck is out of the canal and there is no ETA on when that will happen. Both lanes will be closed during the process until the truck is removed.

DOT said there is no underlying structural or integral damage to the bridge.


AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office is responding to a single vehicle traffic accident involving an eighteen wheeler that went over the canal bridge. The crash happened on I-20 Eastbound at the Augusta Canal Bridge overpass.

The driver is reported to have minor injuries.

There is possible structural damage to the bridge and the Georgia Department of Transportation is currently on the way to the scene.

I-20 Eastbound traffic is being diverted to Riverwatch Pkwy. Stay tuned to NewsChannel 6 for more on this developing story.


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